The One Weird Trick to ALWAYS Stay Under Budget
Budgeting wasn’t always my expertise. I’m cheap, but when it comes to sticking to a budget, it never came naturally.
To be blunt… I stunk at it. I mean, crash and burn kind of stunk at it.
No really, spending $700/month on food wasn’t unusual even though our budget was $400. Whoops…
When we started getting serious about our budget, I took a hacksaw to our current spending and just figured that if we had less in the budget then we would spend less, right?
Wrong! Oh, so wrong!
Taking my normal budget and just slicing it in HALF didn’t actually mean that it was easy to do ACTUALLY cut our spending in half.
The same way that keeping healthy food in your fridge won’t make you skinny if you don’t eat it, cutting your actually budget in half won’t stop you from spending like you used to.
Trying to squeeze our spending down was painful, stressful, and just wound up making me so anxious to over-spend that I just froze at the checkout aisle.
Who was I trying to impress with my sudden change in my budget? Was there some Budgeting Police that would check to see if I went over budget?
No. But the pressure that I put myself under by making my budget too tight too quickly was enough to make it seem like there was someone who was going to check my receipt at the end of the shopping trip and publically yell at me if I went over.
Oh yes. The pressure was on.
Does that sound familiar?
When I found out that what you’re “supposed” to spend each month on groceries is $100 per person per month (so $400/month for a family of four), I laughed. There’s just no way that we could ever make that happen.
But because that’s what it’s supposed to be, I tried to fit my overspent budget into a much smaller mold. I tried squishing my $700 budget into a $300 space. It was like trying to fit into jeans that are 4 sizes too small: you might make them fit, but sooner or later, they’ll burst.
And that’s exactly what kept happening with my budget; I kept trying to cut it down without actually changing our spending habits and it just never worked. And when it failed, I’d just throw my hands up and say “forget this budget!”
Still sound familiar?
It took a lot of planning to get our spending down. Thanks to planning our meals and learning how to do freezer cooking, I was able to take our monthly grocery spending from $700 down to $350. But that doesn’t mean I’m going to keep putting pressure on myself to go lower and lower in my budget.
I learned the trick that saved my sanity. Ever since I started focusing on our finances I used this one weird trick to always stay under budget. And it’s never failed me since.
I kept our budget high, but I always spent less than I needed to. This way, there was no pressure other than the money that I was going to save in a week at the grocery store.
What does that look like?
Well, for our family of 5, our grocery budget is $500/month. But we only spend $350 each month. That means that $150 gets saved each month and put into a savings account. We might save up for a new down payment for a house, buy a new car, go on vacation, save it for a rainy day, go out on a date, or remodel the house with that money.
If we go over the usual $75/week, that’s ok because we still have $500/month set aside for groceries. This way, we can stock up on a great sale if we need to in one month without going over budget.
Doing this also lets us build our savings at an alarming rate. If we save $150 each month from our grocery budget, we could have a savings account of $1,800 in one year! What?!
Yes, it’s a little weird. But using this one weird trick to always stay under budget has helped my family to pay cash for vacations, pay off our car early, and enjoy our lives so much more than we were living paycheck-to-paycheck.
This one weird trick to always stay under budget has changed the way that we look at our budget. It takes the pressure off so that you don’t feel horribly stressed if you go “over” budget one week. If you can take control of your budget this way, you can do anything!
How much do you spend each month on groceries?
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(PS - NONE of them have to do with sales!)